Recently, the American Psychiatric Association eliminated Asperger Syndrome (AS) and introduced the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnostic framework. This change in nosology socially implicates people who self-identify with and derive personal meaning from their AS diagnosis. The current study explored the opinions of adults with AS regarding their identity related to the diagnostic terminology of ASD. Twelve adults with AS completed a semi-structured interview that was transcribed and analyzed qualitatively using Thematic Analysis. The analysis revealed six themes: (a) Derived Meaning, (b) Knowledge and Understanding, (c) Perceptions and Labels, (d) Social Identity, (e) Opinions and Reactions to ASD, and (f) Barriers to Funding and Service Provision. Many participants socially identified and self-categorized as part of the AS community because their challenges matched those described by the DSM-IV. Importantly, many participants described the removal of AS as a threat to their identity, social status, and access to supports. Implications are discussed.


Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM-5, Identity, Qualitative Analysis

Author Bio(s)

Ms. Stephany Huynh completed her M.Sc. in School and Applied Child Psychology and currently works as a psychologist for New Heights School and Learning Services. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: stephany.huynh@newheightscalgary.com.

Dr. Adam McCrimmon is an Associate Professor in School and Applied Child Psychology at the University of Calgary where he directs the Autism Spectrum Education, Research, and Training (ASERT) lab. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: awmccrim@ucalgary.ca.

Dr. Tom Strong is a Professor in Counselling Psychology at the University of Calgary where he specializes in qualitative research methodology. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: strongt@ucalgary.ca.

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